The Clarks have never worn matching outfits, never choreographed a step or dragged around overkill lighting and stage sets. They've never struck arena-rock poses - never had any gimmicks or affectations at all. They just get onstage and get it done.
And they've never found a reason to do it any other way. Because if your casual college band turned into a career dream come true, complete with airtime on "The Late Show with David Letterman" and more than a quarter-million albums sold - and you managed to do it while remaining based in the hometown where your families, friends and biggest fans are - why tamper with success?
On their first DVD and its companion CD, both titled "Still Live," The Clarks chronicle that success by performing a collection of pop-rock songs filled with enough hooks to outfit a fishing fleet. "Better Off Without You," "On Saturday," "Let It Go," "Boys Lie," "Born Too Late," "Penny on the Floor," and of course, "Cigarette," are the kind you find yourself humming for days. With indelible melodies, confident riffs and thoughtful lyrics that connect with listeners, they withstand the test of time. And get better with age. Just like the band that created them.
Speaking of that formation, it happened the way it does for the best bands: organically. Guitarist Rob James, bassist Greg Joseph, drummer Dave Minarik and singer Scott Blasey were just four Indiana University of Pennsylvania students who discovered they sounded good together. The Clarks draw thousands of fans a pop at their shows across the country and tens of thousands at their shows in their home region around Pittsburgh. (And they got a shout-out from Esquire magazine as one of the biggest reasons Pittsburgh topped the mag's list of towns that rock.) They've shared headline status at events like the Rolling Rock Town Fair, appeared multiple times at Milwaukee's Summerfest, shared gigs with John Mayer, Marc Broussard, OAR and Steely Dan, co-headlined with Three Doors Down, and now they've taken to the seas and snow with the annual The Rock Boat cruise and The Rock Slope ski excursion in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
They've been keeping it real for two decades now; not long ago, their alma mater gave the guys distinguished alumni status and recently decided to name a new recording facility after them. But they're not resting on their laurels - academic or otherwise. "We're still striving to be better at what we do all the time," says James. "Just the fact that we're able to perpetuate doing this for a living and being able to focus on the fact that you can get better and grow, I think that's a huge thing."